Gnocchi (/ˈn(j)ɒki/ N(Y)OK-ee, US also /ˈn(j)oʊki, ˈn(j)ɔːki/ N(Y)OH-kee, N(Y)AW-, Italian: [ˈɲɔkki]; singular gnocco) are a varied family of dumpling in Italian cuisine. They are made of small lumps of dough most traditionally composed of a simple combination of wheat flour, egg, salt, and potato. Variations of the dish exist, where individuals often supplement the simple recipe with flavour additives, such as semolina flour, cheese, breadcrumbs, cornmeal or similar ingredients, and possibly including herbs, vegetables, and other ingredients. Base ingredients may be substituted with alternatives – sweet potatoes for potatoes or rice flour for wheat flour, as examples. Such variations are often considered to be non-traditional.
The dough for gnocchi is most often rolled out before it is cut into small pieces about the size of a wine cork or smaller. The dumplings may be pressed with a textured object, such as a fork or a cheese grater to make ridges or cut into little lumps. Professional tools do exist for this purpose, known as a gnocchi board or a cavarola board. Gnocchi is usually eaten as a first course, but they can also be served as a contorno (side dish) to some main courses.
Gnocchi vary in recipe and name across different regions. For example, Lombard and Tuscan malfatti (literally poorly made) are made with ricotta, flour and spinach, as well as the addition of various other herbs if required. Tuscan gnudi distinctively contains less flour; but some varieties are flour-based, like the Campanian strangulaprievete, the Apulian cavatelli, the Sardinian malloreddus, and so on. Gnocchi is commonly cooked on their own in salted boiling water and then dressed with various sauces. But certain kinds are made of cooked polenta or semolina, which is spread out to dry, layered with cheese and butter, and baked.
Gnocchi is eaten as a first course (primo piatto) as an alternative to soups (minestre) or pasta. Common accompaniments of gnocchi include melted butter with sage, pesto, as well as various sauces. Gnocchi may be home-made, made by specialty stores, or produced industrially and distributed refrigerated, dried, or frozen. Most gnocchi is boiled in water and then served with a sauce. Small soup gnocchi is sometimes made by pressing the dough through a coarse sieve or a perforated spoon.